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What Fans Enjoy Most About Tom Holland's Take On Spider-Man

Fans of the "Spider-Man" films over the last two decades got the ultimate treat when all three actors who played Marvel Comics' legendary web-slinger over that timeframe appeared in "Spider-Man: No Way Home," a superhero-slash-supervillain extravaganza that amassed an amazing worldwide box office tally of more than $1.9 billion (via Box Office Mojo) in 2021-22. And while the film starred Tom Holland in the lead, "Spider-Man: No Way Home" also served as appropriate bookends for the Spidey films of Tobey Maguire, which ran from 2002 to 2007, and Andrew Garfield, whose run was much briefer, from 2012 to 2014.

The big difference between Holland's Peter Parker-Spider-Man and his predecessors is the big differences in their ages when each respective actor played the character for the first time. While Holland was still a teenager — 19, to be exact — when he debuted as the character in "Captain America: Civil War" in 2016, Maguire was 27 when "Spider-Man" was released in 2002, while Garfield was 28 when "The Amazing Spider-Man" debuted in 2012.

Perhaps even more remarkable is that while nearly six years had passed in-between the releases of "Captain America: Civil War" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home," Holland looked as though he barely aged at all when the latter was released in December 2021. After all, age was still a crucial factor in the narrative since Parker was a high school senior awaiting the outcome of his application to his dream college: MIT.

On top of that, Peter was still making stupid teenage mistakes — chief among them trying to get Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to make mid-spell changes to a crucial incantation at the beginning of "No Way Home." Meant to make everybody forget Spider-Man's true identity, the botched spell inadvertently caused Strange to tear a hole in the multiverse to allow foes opposing different versions of Spidey from other dimensions to creep into theirs.

Fans on Reddit say Holland plays the role like a real teenager

As it turns out, Tom Holland's age and the youthful demeanor he brings to Peter Parker/Spider-Man seem to be what fans enjoy most about the character. Holland was already in his 20s by the time he kicked off his own trio of "Spider-Man" films — and had turns in the final two "Avengers" chapters, "Infinity War" and "Endgame" in-between — but his boundless enthusiasm hasn't appeared to have dampened one bit or changed the way fans feel about him.

On Tom Holland's 26th birthday on June 2, 2022, u/DarkCompetitive3490 created a thread on Reddit to ask fellow users what they liked most about the actor's version of Spider-Man. "Personally, I think he adds a lot of boyish charm to the character," u/DarkCompetitive3490 wrote. Most of the other comments pointed in the direction of how Holland played Parker-Spidey as a teenager, which, of course, was the way Stan Lee wrote him. "He feels and looks like a real teenager, which is something I can't say about the other 2 actors," wrote u/Defenderjake, punctuating their thoughts with a slight jab at Maguire and Garfield.

Other commenters love how Holland brings out the characteristics of a teen, with u/Charming_Good6040 noting how he plays the character in an awkward and goofy manner, Meanwhile, u/West-Cardiologist180 praised "the character development from wide-eyed rookie superhero to experienced superhero" with Holland's portrayal, saying he has the ability to show off Spidey's happy, sarcastic, funny, and serious sides alike.

Holland feels right at home

While Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created Peter Parker and his friendly neighborhood alter-ego as a teenager in "Amazing Fantasy" #15 in July 1962 (via Marvel Comics), the first two "Spider-Man" film iterations skewed much older when it came to the ages of the first two actors playing him.

As such, Tobey Maguire was 27 and playing a 16-year-old (via Bustle) when the first "Spider-Man" film was released on May 3, 2002, and one of the biggest complaints from fans was that he simply looked too old to play the part. To prove a point, Reddit user u/CesarHuchim in 2021 de-aged some screengrabs of Maguire from his first "Spider-Man" film to illustrate how the actor should have appeared as the character, and the results were stunning. 

Andrew Garfield was actually almost two years older than Maguire when he first put on Spidey's Spandex, making him a 28-year-old playing 16 or 17 when he first appeared as the character in 2012's "The Amazing Spider-Man" — and a 30-year-old trying to pass for 18 or 19 when the film's only sequel was released two years later, according to Bustle. The idea of Garfield playing a teen once seemed untenable to Bustle, but viewers never had a chance to make that judgment because "The Amazing Spider-Man 3" never came to fruition.

While it seemed to viewers that Maguire and Garfield were too old to realize the character's youthful tendencies, Tom Holland had an even taller order when playing Spider-Man for the first time. According to USA Today, Parker's age is 15 in 2017's "Spider-Man: Homecoming," forcing the performer to act even less mature than Maguire or Garfield had to their first time out. Given that Spider-Man appeared in a comic book issue numbered #15 in 1962, it almost seems like Holland was destined to play a 15-year-old character 55 years later — and in a classic Marvel Comics tale, no less, that never grows old.